Travel with Tots

Caroline Dawson on 29 September 2020
For me, long gone are the days when I filled a backpack to last me for three months and headed off to a new country with no itinerary, and no plans other than to get there safely. Oh no, these days my travel adventures look very different! With a 20 month old toddler and a six month old baby thrown into the mix, going on holiday is a whole new ballgame, from the initial planning through to the packing and logistics of it all. Here are the top tips which I found invaluable on my recent holiday to Turkey. I am pleased to report it isn’t actually that difficult to travel with two infants - honestly!

PACKING AND ESSENTIALS Think about what items are essential at home that may be difficult to take away, and if there are any alternatives. Our six month old has recently started to be able to sit up with a bit of support and we found an inflatable baby seat invaluable. It cost a few quid and didn’t take up much room in the suitcase. We used this in our room, on the beach, on the balcony - in fact it came in handy everywhere! A pop-up sunshade was also very useful - flat and light so it was easy to transport and it protected the baby from the sun. And a UV/mosquito cover for the buggy was also a gem - particularly when they were snoozing while we were out and about. Also consider if you will be able to get out to buy essentials such as nappies when you are there, or if you need to take a supply for the whole holiday. We hired a car so knew that we just needed to pop into a supermarket for nappies, though not everyone will have this option. A quick internet search told us that nappies were easy to get hold of in Turkey, reasonably cheap and fairly decent so we only took a couple of days worth. Many UK airports have an airside Boots store, so you can order for collection if you don’t want nappies, wipes, formula etc to take up all your luggage allowance. Just ensure your collection day and time is before you will need to board your flight.

TAKING INFANT EQUIPMENT ON THE PLANE Airlines will usually let you check in one or two items for each infant free of charge out of car seat and pushchair/buggy/stroller. Some also include a travel cot in this (check the airline’s policy before you fly - or ask me). If it’s unclear if your hotel has travel cots, contact them (or again get myself to) to clarify. We requested two prior to departure which they confirmed so we didn’t need to take them. The same applies with car seats - particularly if you are hiring a car. Usually you can rent one or you can take your own. We ended up taking the baby car seat and hiring one for the toddler. If you are taking a buggy/pushchair/stroller, usually this can be taken up to where you board the aircraft, where it is then put in the hold. Be aware that you may not get it back till you get to baggage claim at the other end, so make sure you have your stuff organised in a way that enables you to also carry/look after the small people! You will be surprised at the amount of people who haven’t thought about this! A baby carrier really helped with this so I had my hands free while I ‘wore’ the baby.

DISTRACTIONS ON BOARD Take plenty of distractions - for the plane and for any long journeys such as getting to the airport or the transfer once there. You will know your child better than anyone and what will help get through a few hours - for us it was a combination of fiddly toys (with bits that cannot be removed and therefore not lost), books, a set of stacking cups, plenty of snacks (avoiding high sugar levels) and a tablet loaded with Peppa Pig. And the biggest gem - don’t worry about what anyone else is doing or saying and feel no guilt in what gets you to the other end! Toddlers and babies can and will cry - chances are many other passengers have been there before and are most likely not judging you. And even if they do judge you, let them. You will never see these people again so what does it matter? Just concentrate on getting to the other side.

APPROPRIATE ACCOMMODATION Something I’d never needed to consider before babies came along, but Is your accommodation suitable for your little ones? For example, does it have adequate provisions to keep them entertained? Is there a play park, a kid’s club or a children’s swimming pool? And are there safety provisions in place? If your little one likes to divebomb into water like ours tries to, then maybe a room with a swim up pool isn’t appropriate, and if you have a balcony is it safe for a curious toddler who likes to climb everything? You are there to relax too at the end of the day and constantly keeping hold of a wriggling toddler to avoid them causing themselves harm is neither practical nor fun. So a bit of research before you go pays off here. Speak to your agent, ask for recommendations, and look at reviews from parents of similar aged children. These will all help you find the right stay for you.

COMMUNICATION IS KEY If you are travelling with your partner or another adult, discuss with them beforehand how you will manage certain scenarios, such as when one of you needs the toilet, or when it comes to eating, on the plane. We had this conversation beforehand and therefore managed these scenarios quite well - for example, we asked for our food to be served at different times.

Of course, there were a couple of sticky moments where both babies decided to cry at the same time when Mr Caroline was otherwise occupied; and this is where the tip about forgetting what other people think really came into use! The main thing is, kids are kids, babies are babies and whatever will happen will happen. Travelling with tots does bring its challenges, but it is certainly not impossible and we got through the journey and holiday unscathed, simply down to a little bit of forethought and preparation.

These are just a few tips (there are many) which will hopefully come in useful for when you are travelling with an infant (or two!). I’d be interested to hear your experiences so do get in touch, and if you have any other pieces of advice which haven’t been covered here I would love to hear about them!